For Revitalization of the South Hero Meeting House
Category: South Hero Meeting House Blog
The Meeting House, originally built in 1816 by volunteers, started its life as a church and Town Hall. When a new church was built on South Street in the 1850s, the elders donated the Meeting House to the Town of South Hero. We located the original deed, which features signatures of ancestors of many of today’s Town residents! If you read the list of names, you’ll recognize Robinson, Landon and others!
By Teresa Robinson (President South Hero Bicentennial Museum)
In 2013 when Paige Brownell was in fourth grade at Folsom School, her social studies class took a field trip down to the Old White Meeting House. Paige felt inspired to research more about the old church when she and her classmates noticed some historical details there. This is what Paige wrote:
“The Old White Meeting House was one of the first public buildings in town and was used as the first church, and as a place for people in town to meet for different reasons.
For many years it housed grades 5-8 until Folsom was built in 1949. We walked there and saw where people had written their names under the staircase. We think kids who went to school there in the past wrote them. It might have been that the kids got sent to the corner for being bad. We also saw a container of dried up glue in the closet. Maybe it was left over school supplies. We also saw evidence upstairs in Granny’s Attic that there used to be desks nailed to the floor and we saw a hole in the wall where the flag used to hang.
Bret Corbin met us when we got there. He told us a story about years ago when it was a church and a man used to sing beautifully. The man’s heart was broken when he was told they were going to have new services in the new church on South Street. He loved this church so much that he did not want it to be changed. I learned that this church has a lot of memories that people still cherish today.”
Today our town is embarking on restoring the existing foundation of the Meeting House and stabilizing the east wall by taking out the garage bays and putting back three windows like it used to look. Although it was built by skilled volunteer barn builders in 1816, the years have taken their toll and the building needs our renewed support. The town of South Hero applied for and was awarded a $100,000 grant from the Paul Bruhn Grant for buildings on the historic register. Matching funds are needed so anyone interested in supporting the South Hero Meeting House Foundation & Stabilization Project can donate by sending a check to the South Hero Foundation, Inc., PO Box 441, South Hero, VT 05486. The South Hero Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization.
Thank you for voting “YES” on Article 7 at the 2022 Town Meeting.
If you have questions email or call Sandy Gregg 802-372-4565.
“The Old White Meeting House is South Hero’s Norman Rockwell postcard of a quaint Vermont town whose people gather with ingenuity and foresight to support each other and turn daunting obstacles into heartfelt accomplishments. The church was the first outcome of countless coordinated good deeds. Imagine how many generations of people have been away from South Hero in both good times and bad, only to return and immediately feel at ease, at home, as they gaze up to an old friend with her cupola proudly in the clouds. We have very few historic public buildings here in South Hero. They deserve our appreciation and care.”
Those words were written by Bret Corbin in 2012, a love letter to South Hero, supporting the Old White Meeting House Cupola Restoration Project. His sentiments still ring true today as we embark on restoring the existing foundation of the Meeting House and stabilizing the east wall by taking out the garage bays and adding three windows and clapboard to match. Although it was built by skilled volunteer barn builders in 1816, the years have taken their toll and the building needs our renewed support. The town of South Hero applied for and was awarded a $100,000 grant from the Paul Bruhn Grant for buildings on the historic register. The grant requires matching funds so anyone interested in supporting the South Hero Meeting House Foundation & Stabilization Project can donate by sending a check to the South Hero Foundation, Inc., PO Box 441, South Hero, VT 05486. Please be sure to mark the check and envelope with “South Hero Meeting House Foundation Project.” The South Hero Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit.
South Hero’s Meeting House, the oldest municipally owned building in Grand Isle County, is up for a vote at Town Meeting on Tuesday, March 1. Article 7 will provide the funds to match a $100,000 grant from Preservation Trust of Vermont’s Paul Bruhn Grant program, which is through the National Parks Service to construct a new foundation and stabilize the east wall of the building.
The first Phase of the planned renovation and revitalization of this building will include jacking up the building so a full cellar and new foundation can be poured as well as stabilization of the east wall, which has sagged considerably over the years from the garage bay doors installed in the 1950s.
Without this foundation and stabilization work, the future of the building is unclear. Several years ago, the Granny’s moved heavy objects out of the east side of their shop as the roofline began to visibly sag.
Your vote in favor of Article 7 will start us on the path to bringing this great building back to a full life. Winterization, heat, plumbing, and an addition to provide accessibility as well as office space, which are proposed for future Phases of revitalization, will create a vibrant community asset that will be a complement to the proposed recreation park adjacent to the Meeting House.
This first step in a long revitalization process will ensure that the Granny’s have a safe space for their shop. The full basement, which is part of the project, will create storage for the Town and the restored subflooring will create a useable shell on the first floor.
Please vote yes on Article 7 on Tuesday, March 1. Without your support of this Article, the Town may not be able to fulfill the obligations of the $100,000 grant. Your donations to this project (with checks made out to the South Hero Foundation, Inc., PO Box 441, South Hero, VT, or made online through this site) will also help round out the full match for this project, which has a $275,000 budget. Thank you!
A group of South Hero volunteers have formed the non-profit South Hero Foundation as a 501(c)3 organization. The mission of this organization is to foster the cultural, historical and recreational environment of the Town of South Hero. The first Foundation goal is to raise private funds to renovate and revitalize South Hero’s Meeting House, the oldest municipally owned building in Grand Isle County.
“We formed this new non-profit,” said Foundation President Michael Carroll, “to make it easier for people to get tax deductions for their donations and to pursue private grant funding for the Meeting House. Looking forward, we feel there may be a need for a non-profit organization to augment Town funding for recreation and other activities in Town.”
Funds raised by the Foundation will first be used to match a $100,000 Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Grant awarded by Preservation Trust, Vermont in partnership with the National Park Service. This grant will provide funding for a new foundation and to stabilize the east wall of the building in preparation for future renovations that will extend the building’s year-round use. Additional funding will be needed to fully revitalize the Meeting House, including an addition to provide accessibility, water and septic.
The renovation and revitalization of the Meeting House is a Town project. The Foundation will facilitate the work of the Meeting House committee as they work to bring this iconic building back to life in all seasons. The creation of the Foundation will provide donors with full deductibility of their donations as opposed to gifts to the Town.
If you wish to donate to the renovation of the South Hero Meeting House, which is also home to Granny’s Attic, please send a check payable to: South Hero Foundation, Inc., PO Box 441, South Hero, VT 05486-0441. Or, you may make an online donation here.
Anyone interested in knowing more about this organization may contact Michael Carroll, South Hero Foundation President, at 802-233-2030 or by email at jpmCarroll@gmail.com.
|The Town of South Hero has been awarded a Vermont Community Development Program (VCDP) Planning Grant to plan for the revitalization of the Old White Meeting House, a historic building located in its Village Center. Currently, the building is in need of major repairs, and is only able to be used seasonally. |
Funds from VCDP and the Town will be used to develop an architectural schematic design, cost estimate for renovations, and site plan. The ultimate goal of the project is to revitalize the building for year-round use as a multipurpose community space, as well as for continued seasonal use as the Granny’s Attic Benefit Shop. Northwest Regional Planning Commission is working in partnership with South Hero to manage the project.
This project arose from a Municipal Planning Grant (MPG) the Town received in 2019. As part of the MPG, NRPC conducted public outreach regarding the community’s vision for the future of the building which informed the project’s goal of renovating the structure to be used year-round as a multi-purpose community space and Granny’s Attic.
The Preservation Trust of Vermont announced that the Town of South Hero will receive a Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization grant of $100,000 for foundation and wall repairs of the South Hero Meeting House in South Hero, VT.
Built by community members in 1816, the historic South Hero Meeting House on US Route 2 has served as a church, town hall, school, and more recently as home to the Granny’s Attic Benefit Store and the Town Fire Department. The $100,000 Bruhn Grant will support replacement of the foundation and stabilization of the east wall of the Meeting House.
Long-term goals for the Meeting House include weatherization, adding basic infrastructure (water and septic) and an elevator on the rear to make it fully accessible year-round. Revitalizing this building will preserve a part of South Hero’s rural history for future generations and provide a vibrant, flexible space for a wide range of community and tourist activities, including retaining the 70-year-old Granny’s Attic Benefit Shop, which raises as much as $34,000 each year to support local non-profit causes that range from library books for kids, to meals for children and older Vermonters.
“This grant will help us begin the restoration of this important iconic building which will become the center of cultural and economic activity for South Hero village for decades to come,” said Select Board Chair David Carter. “The economic impact will be tremendous once the restoration of the Meeting House is complete.”
“The Preservation Trust of Vermont, in partnership with the National Parks Service, is excited to support projects that will help preserve and revitalize Vermont’s rural communities,” said Ben Doyle, PTV President. “We congratulate the community champions who are leading this work and thank the congressional delegation, Senator Leahy in particular, for his work in establishing this important national program.”
The Bruhn Revitalization Grant program supports the preservation and restoration of buildings and community gathering spaces of economic and social significance in rural communities with fewer than 7500 residents. Other projects receiving 2022 Bruhn Revitalization grants include: the mid-century Arlington Common building in Arlington, VT ($100,000 for facade restoration); the Union Meeting Hall in Ferrisburgh, VT ($100,000 for structural and restoration work); the Sanborn Covered Bridge in Lyndon, VT ($100,000 for structural work); the Haskell Free Library and Opera House in Derby Line, VT ($75,000 for slate roof restoration); and the Hale-Brodne House/Orange County Restorative Justice Center in Chelsea, VT ($50,000 for rehabilitation).The Preservation Trust of Vermont is a state-wide nonprofit organization that helps communities save and use historic places. The Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Grant Program is administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior. Congress appropriates funding for the program through the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF). The HPF uses revenue from federal oil leases on the Outer Continental Shelf, providing assistance for a broad range of preservation projects without expending tax dollars.